MADRID (Reuters) – Foreign tourism to Spain rose rapidly in August as looser travel restrictions tempted back summer sunseekers though visitor numbers remained at around half their pre-pandemic levels, official statistics showed on Monday.
The number of foreign tourists visiting in August more than doubled from a year ago to 5.19 million but was still barely above half the level seen in 2019, the National Statistics Institute said on Monday.
Over the first eight months of the year, the number of foreign visitors was 15 million, or about 26% of the number in 2019, sharply undershooting the government target’s for half 2019’s levels.
Still, Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto reacted positively to the Monday figures.
“The data strengthen the international tourism recovery and confirm Spain is perceived as a safe destination, she said in a statement on Monday.
Foreign tourists spent a total of 5.9 billion euros ($6.85 billion), up from around 2.46 billion euros in August 2020 but well below the 11.7 billion euros spent in August 2019.
Tourism, which represented about 12% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, all but collapsed in 2020, when the number of foreign tourists fell by more than 80% to 19 million, a level not seen since 1969.
($1 = 0.8619 euros)
(This story corrects to read “at around half” (not below half) their pre-pandemic levels, paragraph 1)
(Reporting by Inti Landauro; editing by Nathan Allen and Jason Neely)